Spain’s top court opposes pardon for Catalan separatists

Spain's top court opposes pardon for Catalan separatists
People hold placards depecting pictures of jailed Catalan separatist leaders in Barcelona in 2019.Photo: Pau Barrena/AFP
Spain's Supreme Court said Wednesday it was against granting a pardon to the Catalan separatists convicted over a failed 2017 independence bid, in a measure being considered by the country's left-wing government.

The court said in a statement it was “against the granting of any form of pardon, total or partial” to 12 Catalan separatists found guilty for their role in an illegal referendum and a short-lived declaration of independence.

In October 2019, the Supreme Court sentenced nine of them — seven senior politicians and two civil society leaders — to jail terms of between nine and 13 years, while the other three were fined.

The court said it had respected “the principle of proportionality” in its sentencing and saw “no evidence or indication of remorse” from the prisoners to justify any such pardon.

The Supreme Court statement was issued as Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government was gearing up to grant a pardon to the separatists as a way of advancing talks over the Catalan separatist crisis.

Sanchez’s coalition government holds a minority in Spain’s parliament and partially relies on the support of the separatist ERC party, in exchange for talks on the Catalan issue.

“There is a time for punishment and a time for harmony. This government will make its decision according to what promotes coexistence between Spaniards,” Sanchez told parliament shortly before the court released its statement.

But his remarks sparked a furious response from right-wing opposition leader Pablo Casado, who said Sanchez had “gone too far” in seeking to pardon “those who had broken the law and undermined harmony and coexistence” within Spain.

Catalonia has been a dominant theme in Spanish politics since a banned independence referendum in October 2017 triggered the country’s worst political crisis in decades.

The Supreme Court’s decision to impose heavy jail terms on the nine separatist figures in 2019 sparked a wave of mass protests in Barcelona and other Catalan cities which sometimes turned violent.


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